Sexist Songs 2014: CHRISTMAS EDITION!

Mariah Carey forces her dog under some mistletoe so she can snog him

So I’m going home in a few days and I’m beginning to feel quite Christmassy! This seems to be the year that “feminism” has entered social media, I don’t know if its just the people I’m friends with on Facebook but every other link I see shared is about sexism and feminism and emancipation of the fairer sex. Even buzzfeed is at it. At the beginning of the year I wrote a bit about sexism in the Top 40. In these times of festive fun its very important not to forget that sexism is still a problem and so I thought I’d take an analytical look at some of our favourite Christmas songs, and ask the question we’ve all been dying to know the answer to… are Christmas songs sexist?

Is Mariah Carey, “All I want for Christmas is You?” sexist?

My favourite thing about a good Christmas song is it stops me from worrying about those popstars who don’t have careers anymore. Whenever I think of Mariah, I can smile and think, oh she’s going to be fine in her old age, because she sang (possibly) the best Christmas song there is. This festive classic reflects the classic princess/prince idea that we were all taught by Disney, basically, you’re going to be just fine as long as you find your Prince. In fact, your Prince is all you need to be happy! I don’t like that stupid stereotype that sets us all up for failure because klet’s be honest, ladies (and gentlemen!) no matter how great your partner is they can’t make you happy if you don’t know how to be happy already!! #PREACH! But I do like that Mariah focusses on festive love instead of festive consumerism.

Verdict: You just can’t criticise a song that uses sleigh bells with such reckless abandon,.

Is “Santa Baby” sexist?

Whereas Mariah is pining for some fireside loving, Marilyn, Kylie, Madonna and all those other wonderfully beautiful ladies have got something a bit more tangible on their minds. “Santa, I really want a nice gift this year, and I think I deserve it because I’ve spent the last 12 months not kissing people…”. Santa Baby really embraces the idea that women want material goods and that they will use their wiley, sexy ways to get them. If you don’t think this song is gendered, wel firstly you’re being a bit dumb, but secondly have a look at Buble’s version. Whereas the ladies want some kind of fur garment (“slip a sable under the tree”), some decorations from Tiffany’s and a ring, Buble wants a Rolex, some Canucks tickets and some decorations bought, quite inexplicably, from Mercedes… I’m not sure that makes the song a misogynist´s anthem but it is some strong proof that Michael Buble is a moron.

Verdict: It clearly plays on “Gold Digger” stereotypes, but it could arguably be ironic?

Is “It’s Cold Outside” sexist?

On the subject of Buble, here’s another song he’s murdered recorded with Idina Menzel. But I will always remember the version by Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews because it has been forever forged in my brain as The Creepiest Song Ever. Cary Mattews’s voice sounds so young in the recording, coupled with her saying “my father will be pacing the floor…” makes you think she’s about 15. I think the creepy McCreepy highlight is when she says “Say, what’s in this drink…? I wish I could break this spell”. What IS in the drink, Tom!? What spell have you poisened her with!? She goes on, “The answer is no.” But thankfully he is not perturbed and keeps pressurising her to drink and smoke until finally agrees to stay.

Verdict: I don’t know if its cold outside but this song sends a freezing cold shiver down my spine.

Is East 17, “Stay Another Day”, sexist?

Christmas seems to be littered with needy men attempting to convince women to stay with them. East 17 choose to emotionally blackmail their loved one: “Baby if you have to go away, don’t think I can take the pain… don’t leave me alone like this”. Also, in a vaguely innappropriate gesture of affection, he says “I touch your face while you are sleeping”. I find this very offensive as first of all its an invasion of personal space while somebody is unconscious. Secondly it reflects this awful idea that women look good when they’re sleeping, which is cruel as some of us dribble when we’re sleeping and we can’t help it.

Verdict: I’m going to be honest, this may well be my favourite Christmas song so I refuse to criticise it.

Is Slade “Merry Christmas Everybody” sexist?

No, its not, its the best song ever written and should be played all year around.

Seasons greetings!!!

Blollings xx

Christmas shopping in Seville: Mucho Más Ke Market

Mucho Más Ke Market, Sevilla
Christmas shopping while you’re abroad can be a biiiiit stressful, especially when you’re like me and you find picking an ice cream flavour a terrible ordeal, meaning that picking gifts for other people is an experience more harrowing than the Hunger Games. Additionally is the major problem that everything you buy has to fit in your luggage to go home, which is particularly concerning seeing as when I came out to Seville my luggage was already 3kg over. My good friend here the other day was like, “I don’t understand how you were over the limit!” This was probably in reference to the fact I wear the same clothes every. single. day. I really  blame the huge amount of moisturiser I have to lug around with me. 
However, Seville actually has a wealth of wonderful shopping opportunities, and I decided I may as well try to enjoy the shopping experience. So yoday i went waddling over to the other side of town to visit the “Mucho Más K Market” market, which opened in Seville today. Its meant to be an alternative to the average Christmas market. Seville is a pretty traditional place, but there is also a bit of a bohemian vibe here and there and there are a lot of young artists and craftspeople around and about.
The market hall is full of scaffolding so you feel like you’re in the middle of a get-in at a theatre. The scaffolding is full of plants, which makes you feel like you’re in the last section of IKEA where they sell bamboo and vases. Overall its a very pleasing effect. Its not a massive place but there’s a small bunch of stalls selling your average alternative crafts, like quirky silver jewellery and indie illustrations printed onto every day items. Some things are slightly overpriced but I did buy a couple of things which MUST REMAIN SECRET as they may or may not be Christmas Presents!!!
My colleague told me about the market. If she hadn’t, I don’t think I ever would have found it. Its not signposted and its almost impossible to find (mainly because its in Seville, and everything in Seville I’d impossible to find!) If you want to go then I suggest you head to the indoor market on Calle  Feria. If you’re coming from the mushroom, turn right just before that market. You’ll end up on called arrayàn and the market is on the right.
#christmasshopping
#hohoho

Flamenco Nights: El Museo del Baile Flamenco, Sevilla

We decided to go to a flamenco show at the Flamenco Museum during VIP´s visit to Seville because one of my (many, many) mates works there. For a while he’d been telling us the show was really good, but I was wary of forcing VIP to go as you have to pay entry. But in the end, we thought it was a good cultural experience and couldn’t be too bad…

The museum is the only one dedicated to flamenco in the world, and every night they have one or two performances. I’d been walking around all day and was suffering from what-I-call-a-life-threateningly-awful hangover, so I’d say my enthusiasm for the concert was LOW. Even so, when we arrived the space was so atmospheric I decided I better make the most of it and treated myself to large white wine. The museum is more modern than I’d expected, and the stage is in the centre of an indoor patio, surrounded by traditional arches. The audience sit around the stage so that wherever you are its very intimate.
They described the show as “Flamenco Moments”, and I suppose its like a beginner’s guide as it was very accesible and showcased a lot of different aspects of flamenco. There are lots of different types, but generally flamenco involves a guitarist and a singer, who clap and stamp rhytms along to the music, and then a dancer (usually female). Like most folk music, the songs and dances tell stories. When I first heard it, the voice really reminded me of Indian or Arabic music, as its very influenced by Andalcia’s arabic history. 
They have different performers every night, and I don’t know if we were just very lucky, but they were fantastic. The guitarrist, Diego Franco, did a solo in the middle of the show where he sat alone on stage, in the spotlight, and played some traditional Spanish guitar. Now this is going to sound a wee bit over-dramatic, but I literally had tears in my eyes because it was so good. It was just so emotive! The whole style of flamenco seems to really capture emotion and then express it. I was amazed by the female dancer, Rocio Alcaide, who didn’t smile when she was dancing but looked like she was suffering some terrible trauma while she stamp-stamped her wooden shoes on the floor. It. was. amazing.
 We were all taken by complete shock, and were on the edge of our seats for the whole thing. I’m now so keen to learn more about flamenco and see more of it live. The museum has a mainly tourist audience, and I would like to see a show with Spanish audiences as I know they are much more vocal during the dances. This is definitely a must-see in Seville; I felt like I got a glimpse into the soul of the city.
The performers we saw were Diego Franco, Rocio Alcaide, Jorge Canastero and Juan Polvillo,

Best Breakfast/Brunch in Seville: Cristina &Co Review

Salmon and avocado tartar at Cristina and Co.

The Spaniards do a lot of things well, but when it comes to breakfast, I’m still not convinced. Most of the traditional bodegas will serve you toast with different toppings, coffee, orange juice and a variety of eggs. But they lack those fresh and zingy breakfast options that are really popular in the UK…

Now when VIP was visiting we woke up on a Saturday morning feeling tender and delicate after a night out. By the time we’d pulled ourselves together and dragged ourselves out of the house, it was too late for breakfast. But we are cosmopolitan and metropolitan people, so we knew we could handle brunch with ease and grace. When I’m hungover, I always feel like I want to line my insides with grease and bacon fat, but I’ve realised the best way to feel better is to eat something green.

After a quick browse on Trip Advisor I decided we should head to Catalina&Co. Look at its smooth grey windows!! Its so sharp! It’s by the university on the large street that the tram goes down to get to Puerta Jerez. This meant that we got a bit of sunshine on us as we ate. The service was friendly and the refreshing and tasty food was JUST THE TICKET!

What to order: So I went for the salmon and avocado tartar. And it was just divine, fresh, zingy and delicious. Its exactly what you want.
The croquetas were a bit upper class as they were shredded meat inside, as opposed to the usual doughy paste.
VIP ordered this incredible …. thing … that I can only describe as potato and egg bacon cake. Like everything else, it was served stylishly. Lots of sliced, fried potato was bound together with eggs to make a kind of cake, and it was surrounded with a cage of bacon. It was a pretty spot on breakfast dish.

Not so great: Oh my god, VIP got a beer. I don’t know how he did it, but it hurts me just thinking about it.

The prices are around £2,50 for a tapa, and its excellent quality.
The restaurant is Calle San Fernando.

TOP TIP: I haven’t been for breakfast myself but, on the grapevine, I’ve heard very good things about Azotea
I’m still on the lookout for more unique and refreshing tapas bars in Seville, if you have a recommendation then let me know and I’ll try it out!

Best Tapas of Seville: Bodeguita Ojiva

Recently I’ve been telling myself I need to eat at home to save money. It hasn’t been a resounding success. Yesterday I compromises by instead of eating in a tapas bar, I had a tuna empanada from a fancy bread shop and then went home and ate a bag of chocolate coins. (They were both delicious. No regrets). And today I was wondering back to the flat planning the lunch I was going to cook and just happened to find myself inside Bodeguita Ojiva ordering their special of the day…its friday so it doesnt matter, right?
This little bodega (just off Puerta de Carmina on Calle San Estaban) has often caught my attention on my way to work, as small chalkboard outside advertises its special Guacamole Tapas. I’d never ventured inside though, partly because I never meet my friends this side of town, and also because I wasn’t sure whether to trust a place that has had the same “special guacamole” on offer for the entirety of my time in Seville.
In the end I was pretty impressed. Its a tiny bar, with cute chairs outside that just manage to get a dapple of sun despite being in one of Santa Cruz’s narrow pedestrian allies. My seat looked onto busy San Estaban, but the hubbub of traffic and families walking home from school made me feel pretty cosmopolitan. When I ordered, the friendly waitress asked, “you want a beer with that, right?”. And I replied, “yes. Yes I do.”
What to eat: the hot tapas are different every day, apparently. Today there were three choices. I went for the Carrillada con puree de papas. I was expecting pork cheek but it tasted more like lamb, served with pureed potatoes. The meat was in a deliciously gravy with onions and, surprisingly, raisins. This gave it a Morrocan kind of feel. It was was really, really good.

Not so great: they do a choice of breads with different toppings and sandwiches. I obviously had to get the guacamole. It was very smooth, served in toast with chopped tomato and onion. Yeah, it was all right, but not worth going out of your way for. Next time I’ll try something more unusual topping, like salmon orange and nuts.

I didn’t save any money. The menu is £2.50 and up, but it was tasty food and stylishly presented.

Best Tapas of Sevilla: La Azotea

When VIP was visiting from the UK, I made sure we tried all the traditional (and delicious) tapas you just have to eat when you come to Seville.. spinach and chickpeas, pork cheek, steaks in whiskey sauce, salmorejo soup etcetc. But when you’ve had a lot of that type of typical food, it can all become a bit… uninspiring. On our last night, I was planning to go to Eslava so we could try some more modern tapas. But unfortunately, Eslava is apparently shut on Sundays.

I knew the one place where there would definitely be open restaurants would be on Calle Mateos Gago by the cathedral, as this is the tourist hotspot. So we reluctantly wandered over there; not that enthusiastically because I knew we’d end up picking from a load of restaurants that all offer the same sort of thing. And that’s when we stumbled across La Azotea, looking a bit quirky and unique.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Azotea is a chain of four restaurants in Seville, all offering different menus designed by their individual chefs. It’s priced higher than most tapas restaurants – most dishes were 4 euros and above. But the dishes were imaginative, unique and really well executed. It is so worth the extra money. We ended up ordering far, far more than we could eat and couldn’t even contemplate deserts. Even with drinks included, however, the meal for two came to 35 euros which was excellent value considering the quality of the food. Additionally, the waitress gave VIP a free glass of wine as he offered to move to make more room for other guests.

What to eat: EAT EVERYTHING! We started with a tomato salad, served with basil jellies and lemon sorbet. It looked amazing, and as the sorbet melted it became a zingy dressing for the salad. It was fantastic.
Additionally I tried the best croquettes I’ve had yet. They blew my mind. There was no dough, but instead shredded pork mixed with small beans, It was served with a sweet chili sauce, my mouth is watering just thinking about them!
From the temting specials we chose some deliciously tender pork loins which I would love to eat again.
Finally, it sounds boring, but the patatas bravas were in a whole new league.

Not so great: It was quite busy in the restaurant – though, for a tapas bar, not outstandingly so – and it was clear the waiters and waitresses got a bit overwhelmed. It was often difficult to attract their attention and they forgot to bring us water. However they were very cheerful so that was nice.
Also, the restaurant looks great – that’s what attracted us into it. But I had to sit on a stool! You seriously need a back on chair when you’re eating that much!

I’m keen to go to one of the other branches of this chain, as I’d be interested to see if it would be different with Spanish customers around you instead of tourists, who often find the tapas concept a bit challenging. But more than that, I seriously need to eat those croquettes again. The tagline for the restaurant is “fall in love with tapas again”. I did.

Photo source: Azahar Sevilla, who also has some photos of their food. I was too busy eating.

A Weekend in Seville

When I was on my year abroad, my parents visited me in Austria AND Cuba. Since graduating, however, relations between us have apparently turned sour. While I’m here in Seville they are not visiting me. You may have heard of angry parents changing the locks on the doors when their rogue offspring finally leave. Well it may not shock you to hear I come from quite a DRAMATIC family, and my parents decided to take it one step further and had a completely NEW door stuck onto the front of my house so that there are now two solid wooden barriers barring me from my family home! They  have NOT cut me a key! Christmas is going to be tense (if I ever get inside the building).

But don’t fret too much as even though the family have decided to barricade themselves in Wolverhampton until I return, I still had a VIP guest this weekend. I think Seville is probably the perfect city for a romantic get away… lots of winding streets, beautiful views, a passionate culture and a million and one tapas bars where you can drink and share food.

This is the itinerary I organised for our extended weekend in Seville. I thought I’d write it out in case anyone else is planning a visit!

Itinerary for a Romantic Weekend in Sevilla

We spent two nights at my gaff in Santa Cruz, and two in the hotel Sacristia de Santa Ana in the Alameda, which is on the other side of the old town.

Friday
Spend the morning wandering through the enchanting Santa Cruz district, which is the historical area of Seville. BE WARNED, if you don’t know your way around, for God’s sake take a map and be prepared to get very, very lost. (My colleague who’s worked here for 12 years says she still gets lost). Google maps is literally no help. If all else fails, try work out where the river is. If you can get to the river then you can get your bearings.

It was absolutely beautiful weather during our weekend in Seville. If the sun is shining, then head to the Alcázar de Sevilla. This beautiful moorish style palace has awesome architecture and some beautiful gardens, and its very romantic to wander around them in the sunshine, spotting peacocks hiding in the greenery and enjoying the water features.

If you can bare to take yourself out of the sunshine, head to the Cathedral (known as the Giralda) just across the road.

After the Alcázar we wandered through the Jewish quarter to the parks off Mendez Pelayo and had lunch.

After lunch, walk back through  the old town to the Parasol (also known as the Setas, which means mushrooms). You can take a drink at the top or just admire the wonderful views of the city.

In the evening, treat yourself to some high quality tapas and then head out on the town.
In Seville, students go to Alfalfa where there are cheap drink deals and busy bars. Afterwards you can go to the Alameda where clubs stay open til like 6am.

Saturday
Now if you used Friday to its full potential, you will need a bit of a lie in on Saturday. That’s okay – you’re on holiday!!

Seville Football Game

Treat yourself to a good breakfast. We really enjoyed Catalina&Co (Calle San Fernando).
Helpfully, this is on the way to the Plaza de Espana. If you’ve never seen this before, prepare to be mind blown. If you’ve got a bit of spare time then you can hire boats or bicycles and enjoy the Parque de María Luisa which is very stunnig.

In the evening, I really recommend a show at the Museo del Baile Flamenco. Very close by you can eat some traditional tapas, for example at La Bodega just off the Alfalfa. However, if you’re planning a fancy meal during the weekend don’t get caught out like we did and wait til Sunday, or the restaurant you’ve picked out might be closed!

Sunday
Sunday is a day of rest in Spain, and nearly all the shops shut, as well as some restaurants during the evening. In the day time though the restaurants and bars are full of families enjoying quality time together.
Take the chance to have a relaxed walk down to the river where you can have a drink in the sun looking at the beautiful views.

This weekend Sevilla FC were playing Granada. You can find out the listings of Sevilla FC and buy tickets online here and for their rivals, Real Betis Balompié, here. Sevilla FC’s grounds are by the Nervion shopping centre, we got there on the 32 bus from outside McDonald’s at Plaza del Duque. The 45,000 seater stadium was full to the brim with Seville fans, and it was lovely to watch the game as the sun set over the city.

In the evening we’d hoped to go to Eslava, but when that was shut we headed for the area near the cathedral, where restaurants aimed at tourists are open every day. And we totally lucked out with the Azotea resturant serving amazing tapas (my review).

If you’ve got any energy left (we were exhausted!) head round the corner to the EME Catedral Rooftop bar. This swanky joint has amazing views and AMAZINGLY EXPENSIVE DRINKS.

Monday

On Monday my VIP guest left Seville. We had a bit of breakfast near my house then headed to the Park to enjoy the weather. This is very convenient place to spend any spare time before the flight, as the bus to the airport goes from Prado de San Sebastian which is next  to the park.

It was a wonderfully busy weekend!

BESOS FROM SPAIN xxx